On Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7PM at the Community Development Department, the School Board will hear updates on two renovation/addition plans for Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School. It is expected that prelimary cost estimates will also be given of two separate options, both of which include a menu of “add alternates. “Add alternates” will be priced out separately, and pending the Boards decision may be included as part of the final proposal or may be presented as separate warrant articles, allowing voters to choose from a “menu” of options.
For Golden Brook School, the “add alternates” include:
The “add alternate” for Windham Middle School include:
Windham LINK encourages the public to attend the meeting Tuesday night. If you feel any of the above “add alternates” should be part of the final plan or presented as separate Warrant Articles, it is important to let the School Board know your thoughts now. Thank you again for your time!
The following post was originally published in the Windham Independent and is being with permission by the author, Kathryn Bates, Principal of Windham Center School
Background In 1939
Windham Center School opened its doors as Windham’s first public elementary school, Windham Grade School. At that time, Windham Center School had a total of three classrooms. As the years went by and the population of the town grew, renovations were completed at the school that included the addition of a gym and several classrooms. After the last renovation in 2000, Windham Center School was designed to accommodate 472 students (WSD Facilities Study, 2011); however, over the last five years, WCS enrollment has averaged between 630 and 750 students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2000), a school is overcrowded “when the number of students enrolled in the school exceeds the number of students the school was designed to accommodate.”
Currently there are 743 third, fourth, and fifth grade students enrolled at Windham Center School. Our students are housed across two separate campuses: Center School and Windham High School. There are 32 regular education grade level classrooms for grades three through five. The average class size for each grade level includes: Grade 3 at 21, Grade 4 at 24, and Grade 5 at 25.
The most significant impact of overcrowding at Windham Center School is the fact that our students are housed across two campuses. Four of our third grade classrooms are currently at Windham High School. In addition, class sizes are above the NH state average of 19 for grades three and four, and 20 for grade five. WCS has no designated space for art, music, band, physical therapy, English as a second language, or computer. Staff members often share small instructional spaces throughout the school. For example, seven response to intervention staff share a single small location. In addition, programs such as enrichment and foreign language were eliminated six years ago due to capacity issues. There is simply no additional physical space available to accommodate the current enrollment at Center School.
Other effects include a strain on current services such as administration, guidance and special education. Travel time between campuses, for students and staff, reduces available instructional time. In addition, Center School relies on four Golden Brook School teachers to provide gym, art, and music classes for our four third grade classes at Windham High School. There is also a lack of adequate parking. During the course of the day, and when events such as open house occur at the Center School campus, families and volunteers find they must park along the road, across the street, and across the intersection. This presents safety concerns and causes significant traffic flow issues at dismissal time and during events.
Plans Implemented to Alleviate/Mitigate
Windham Center School has already initiated numerous plans to help alleviate/mitigate the impact of overcrowding. Most notably, Windham Center School houses four third grade classrooms, and associated support services, at Windham High School. In addition, band takes place on the stage, some concerts take place in the WHS auditorium, art and music are on carts, and response to intervention and English as a second language take place in various spaces throughout the school (one space being utilized is a stair landing). A former classroom space was converted into five dedicated spaces for special education, and a former conference room and two staff bathrooms were converted into a single special education space. Parking spaces have been added along the rear driveway for staff/parents, and plans to move the rear fence, add additional parking spaces, and move the paved playground area to behind the playground equipment have been proposed. Other plans include a request to extend the front driveway in order to alleviate the dismissal and event traffic congestion.
Conclusion and Next Steps
As noted by a parent on the WCS Facebook page, Windham Center School is a school “for children and about the children; the way it should be.” This is our primary focus. We continue to provide for the needs of our students, but do so under the constraints of our capacity issues. Our next steps are dependent upon any construction that may take place to alleviate this serious issue. Barring construction, we will need to examine how our classrooms are configured and likely need to further increase class size. Windham Center School simply has no available and usable space left.
Architects and Engineers Finalizing Cost Estimates For Renovation and Addition to Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School
On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, at 7pm Banwell Architects and Eckman Engineering will present preliminary cost estimates of two proposed addition and renovation plans for Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School. The plans are intended to alleviate the overcrowding that has been plaguing the Windham School District for the last five years.
Windham LINK attended the joint meeting of the School Board and the Building & Grounds Committee last week during which Banwell Architects presented several options that were subsequently narrowed down to two; Option C Prime and Option D. Option C Prime includes the purchase of four acres of land adjacent to GBS and more readily allows for future expansion. Option D reuses several components of the existing GBS building and has a more compact floor plan.
Banwell noted the options presented last Tuesday included 3,000 square feet more program space than the School Board originally requested. This program space was added based on reviews by the Administration and to accommodate special education needs. Including the additional space will increase core capacity essential space (ie: circulation and large gathering areas), which need to be addressed. Banwell also proposed that one new gym should be built to align with the Department of Education recommended size of 7,000 sq. ft, versus the originally requested 6,000 sq. ft. gym.
Final cost estimates will also include renovations and a possible addition to Windham Middle School. Ultimately, the solution being proposed will result in Golden Brook School transitioning from a 600-student school (currently grades K-2) to a school with 1,000+ students (grades Pre-K - 4). The following is our understanding of the proposed Option C Prime and Option D that are specific to Golden Brook School.
Option C Prime
It was clear during the meeting that Option C Prime was preferred by the architects and Administration. Both Tina McCoy, our Interim Superintendent of Schools, and Ken Eyring, Chairman of the School Board, expressed their concern for the enormous overcrowding and the serious problem our District is facing.
Please attend the School Board meeting on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7pm in the Community Development Room to see initial drawings and hear preliminary cost estimates for the plans.
Site Walk at GBS Followed by Joint Meeting of Building & Grounds Committee and School Board Today at 6:15 PM
There is a joint meeting of the Building and Grounds Committee and the School Board tonight, October 6, 2015. The meeting begins with a non-public session followed by a Site Walk and Renovation Discussion at 6:15 PM at Golden Brook School.
The meeting will continue at 7:00 PM at the Community Development Department. It is our understanding that the architects working on the addition and renovation to Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School will be present at the meeting.
Agenda items include:
*The Estimator is a document that was created during the planning phases of Option 2, which is what the renovation/addition to GBS was previously referred to as. It was used by the Citizens Facilities Committee to estimate costs based on square footage, class size, and a variety of other factors.
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